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Friday, May 5, 2017

Why I recently discharged myself from two excellent medical hospitals. I don’t recommend it highly, but sometimes it’s the required jump start.


I was hospitalized from March 26th through April 28. I was in George Washington Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC, though April 14th; in Cleveland Clinic (Akron General) for the April 15/16 weekend, and on to Cleveland Clinic (Edwin Shaw rehab) on April 17. Laura stayed with Aunt Beth and Caroline for the rest of the holiday, then with a school mate for two weeks, then with Aunt Janice, living from her suitcase.

There is no universal hospital system in this country. For all the grand talk of the last thirty odd years, computers do not talk to each other.  Nor do doctors. When my brother-in-law retired, my sister refused to move to southern Ohio for Tom to be closer to his family. Old truck drivers don’t get it; the doctors, the hospitals, the rehab is not out in the corn fields, nor is he. Jan and Tom still live in our doctor central, and amid all their friends.

When I had sorted through enough grey cells, and begun asking questions, I knew it was decision time. The DC doctors appeared once a day, and I realized they were talking to me about not leaving. They would transfer me to rehab in DC. They pretended to, or perhaps actually knew nothing about Edwin Shaw rehab clinics in Ohio. I’ve gone to these since my hip was replaced in 2003. I was there last the day before we left, and scheduled our return for Thursday, so I could keep my Friday appointment.

The fact I had responsibilities in Ohio made no nevermind to the DC docs. I have a granddaughter in school. I have a job. I have a home, with expenses to pay.  I have family and friends. I have a cat. I was well enough to move on to rehab. The DC docs wouldn’t even look up “Edwin Shaw rehab.”

When the DC docs left the room, I called my clinic and had a nice chat.  I left my therapist a message, and  told them I would be there to start rehab on Monday. There were logistics, of course. New patients are admitted on Monday. I was in no shape to spend any time out of the hospital, so I arranged to show up at Akron General, be admitted through emergency on Friday, and on to Edwin Shaw on Monday.

The Edwin Shaw folks were a bit incredulous, but said if I actually arrived, of course I would be admitted. I called my daughter, told her I was being discharged Friday, and could she come down from Cleveland to drive me back from DC.  When she arrived, she fell in with the plan, more or less. Like me, she found the reasons to leave far outweighed any reasons to stay. They are a post themselves.

The DC docs put together some unhappy discharge paperwork, I was rolled into Beth’s car, with Grandma Ruth riding shotgun in the back seat, and we were off. We arrived at Akron General’s emergency room, and politely took our place in line. I dozed, and completely gave up my plan to get Beth and Ruth on their way.  I knew my name and knew I could raise my hand when it was called. But, they would not budge, and so be it.


Eventually I was asleep in a warm, soft bed, with new tags around my wrist and Beth and Ruth back on the road, north to Cleveland. I had home just down the road, the weekend off and the beginning of the next phase of recovery looking decent.

36 comments:

  1. You are right about them not communicating with each other. You really have to advocate for yourself or someone else. Glad you got into rehab. We were going to take my daughter (when she was 19) and home then to rehab only to find out the insurance wouldn't cover rehab if she didn't go straight there from the hospital. Hope you are recovering nicely and getting enough rest. Something tells me you are not.

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    1. Not to worry; I'm sleeping every minute I'm not awake. I think about 10 hours a night and another three or four or more every day. The cat is complaining of overwork.

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    2. Glad to hear it my dear. Not something one can get over and done with as quickly as you'd like.

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  2. My, my ... you ARE a determined little soldier, aren't you?! And I'm starting to think that your compromised brain could beat most healthy brains any day of the week.

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  3. Hari OM
    Oh I'm glad you at least went into another hospital situation... being closer to home is always an improvement; it builds the inner stamina in order to better supply what is needed for the physical. Still and all... gutsy...

    Am even more glad you have reached the point where you can tell us about it. So grateful you are still around my friend! YAM xx

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  4. Thank you for explaining a little of your decision. Sadly you are so right about doctors not communicating. With each other, with the patient, with the patient's family. And when you add another facility into the mix...
    Am I right in thinking you are not quite home yet? Sending hugs and healing thoughts to go with your fortitude.

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  5. I doubt I could think my way through all of that even if I were perfectly well. You are a trooper.

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  6. Thankfully you were still able to do things for yourself. It really is a bummer in hospital when you can't advocate or have a loved one advocate for you. It seems to be getting worse and worse. They don't even communicate with each other in the same building let alone across states or provinces.

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  7. You are one smart, tough lady, it's a privilege to know you. Our medical system sucks big time. Love you Joanne

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  8. Just don't hurry so much that you neglect yourself.

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  9. Your comment about the cat's complaining makes me think maybe you are at home. Maybe spent a few days at the rehab near your home? You give a whole new meaning to the term "one tough grandma!" One thing is for sure. Never a dull moment. May your problems only lessen from now on!

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  10. You have more guts and determination than I ever will.

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  11. It has always amazed me that doctors do not communicate with each other. And they don't read the nurses notes either!!

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  12. Doctors are familiar with their own network and don't like to think too much outside of the box. Logistically, though, it makes sense a patient will do better if they are closer to their own surroundings than miles away, but doctors don't think in those terms. It was good Laura had places to stay in your absence.

    betty

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  13. Now I understand why you left. I'm looking forward to reading the next part of the story. I don't know much about hospitals here, I'm rarely in one, but I'm pretty sure they agree to let you go if they are sure you are going straight to another hospital closer to home, if it is within the same city. I don't know about interstate though.
    I'm glad there were family members available to move you and to look after Laura too.

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  14. You are having a tough time of it Joanne. Interesting to read about another health system. People complain about our NHS here in the UK but they should all read your story then they might be grateful for the treatment we get here.
    Get well soon.
    I hope you are getting my replies. They keep being returned to me as not delivered.

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  15. I'm sure you recovered better nearer to home even though had to move mountains to get there. Thinking of you doing a hospital break makes me smile. Wishing you a good recovery xx

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  16. I don't think that hospitals are good places to hang around more than you need to - better to be an out-patient if you can. The trouble is that they are institutions, and everyone in them get institutionalised.

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  17. You have the sense and will to organise your own care...a rarity in my experience. What would have happened to some else less assertive?

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  18. I am so impressed, but not surprised, that despite your injuries, you were able to coordinate all those moves.

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  19. Hospitals and systems sound the same the world over. Common sense is non-existent. I am glad you got yourself nearer home.

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  20. A lady of steel and resolve! And I hope those condescending doctors learned a little something about listening to their patients.

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    1. Oh, Marty. I doubt it. I was just the bald old lady who had so many arguments. It was so frustrating; they could solve it by walking out the door, with a cheerful smile and a non-answer.

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  21. obviously those DC doctors didn't know who they were dealing with. so glad you and Laura are finally back home.

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  22. Way to take the bull by the horns! I cannot even imagine the lack of communication you are talking about. I'm so glad you were able to arrange for a different facility. -Jenn

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  23. You are braver than I am, Joanne. I refused to leave the hospital once when I didn't have a diagnosis but never the opposite.

    Take care, Joanne.

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  24. Did they actually discharge you, or did you go AMA? My only qualm about that is insurance....
    hope you are getting better
    Mike

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    1. That was my big concern, Mike. I was in GW Memorial for 21 days, and coherent enough to understand my self the last week. AMA was thrown at me every time I opened my mouth. No one ever heard of Edwin Shaw. No one looked it up until I shoved its Google history in their faces from my phone. It has now been acquired by Cleveland Clinic. Unless they have not heard of Cleveland Clinic, too.
      There are no discussions. They muddied the dialog at once with AMA, and never let it go.
      As I said somewhere, I was just the tiny person with half a head of hair, not worth their consideration. I said I could wait in their main lobby for the discharge papers. I checked what I got, and it looked reasonable, so I thanked them and split.

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  25. They are fine on the medical stuff..but about the lives of their patients they have not a clue...nor do most of them want to know.
    We have experience...and Leo has form in being sprung from hospitals....

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  26. good for you to take charge of your own healthcare. I wish the medical system made it easier to do that reasonable action.

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  27. I spent ten days in Edwin Shaw after double knee replacement. In fact I was there for Christmas, 2011. It's an excellent rehab facility. But I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am you had to live through all of this. But at least you did live through it.

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  28. And this entire story (which we don't quite have yet) makes me so sad because I began my vacation March 26th when I flew to Sarasota to join my daughter's family for a week there. I had a wonderful time and was back on the 1st of April and began watching for you to post something about your vacation. I did worry about you, but I have anxiety disorder and tend to worry about everyone. I kept trying to tell myself you were doing a Rhodes Scholar course or taking a cruise somewhere. No such luck. I hope you recover and have a wonderful summer. I also hope you end up a richer woman because the bus company owes you a lot.

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  29. Wow! You have been through so much. I applaud your assertiveness in advocating for yourself!

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  30. Good Grief, Joanne!!!

    Somehow medical systems have not figured out to use computers for communication. Glad you are home. You are one tough old broad.

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